Tech Universe: Tuesday 11 March

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

THE OFF SWITCH: Did you forget to switch off your appliances when you left home this morning? Leaving them on unnecessarily means more power used and higher power bills, and of course, a bigger drain on the planet's resources. The Parce One from Germany aims to help us take a small step in the right direction. It's a smart plug that not only monitors energy usage but also makes suggestions for improvement and allows you to switch appliances on and off remotely. The smart device learns how you use electricity and can make suggestions, connecting via WiFi to smartphone and web apps. You can also define detailed schedules of your own or accept default settings. One day things like this will be installed by default in all homes.

PUSH ME PUSH YOU: The M3 Wave power system is designed to be anchored to the ocean floor where it produces electricity without spoiling the view or causing a hazard to shipping.

At its heart is a bidirectional turbine. The Delos-Reyes Morrow Pressure Device contains linked chambers of air. As a wave rolls over the top of one chamber it pushes air through a turbine and into another chamber. When the wave rolls over the second chamber the air is pushed back again. Like all technologies, the key will be to discover the negative impacts on the environment.

JOINED AT THE WRIST: Cuff bracelets and pendants have a little something out of the ordinary: a CuffLinc. It's not to keep your shirt sleeves closed, but instead includes a GPS receiver and uses Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone. If you're in a dangerous situation press the Cuff for 3 seconds to send out an alert to selected people. The alert continues until someone responds. The Cuff also vibrates when anyone with you in their circle presses their Cuff. If you aren't wearing a Cuff, the alert goes directly to your phone. The CuffLinc can be swapped between different items of jewellery, and the battery lasts for 12 months. Clever.

THE MIRROR SWITCH: Maybe the vehicle you drive has a rearview camera so you can see what's going on behind the car. That's undoubtedly useful, and potentially a lifesaver. Usually those views appear in a separate display on the dashboard. Nissan's Smart rearview camera instead displays in the rearview mirror itself, if you want it to. A built-in LCD monitor with a unique aspect ratio of approximately 4:1 can be activated in place of the conventional mirror by flipping a switch at the bottom of the mirror. The image comes from a 1,300,000 pixel narrow-angle camera mounted on the rear of the vehicle, while image processing helps deal with glare from a low sun angle or the bright lights of a following vehicle. Both camera and monitor had to be developed for an unusual aspect ratio to avoid the image losing resolution. The smart mirror will first be implemented in cars racing in the 24 hour Le Mans and will appear in regular cars next year. A facility to record the camera images could be interesting too.

SUNNY DISPOSITION: Bright light improves both our health and our mood, but how much do we actually receive, especially in the depths of winter? The SunSprite is a small wearable device that tracks daily visible and UV light, and of course it's solar powered. At the press of a button each of 10 tiny LEDs lights up to represent 10% of the daily exposure you need to meet your goal. A smartphone app indexes UV exposure, tracks goals and offers tips. That's a great idea, at the right price.

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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